Wages - Sex or ability?

According to new research by the Chartered Management Institute, women are still earning less than men in the more senior executive positions, although their pay has overtaken men's in the junior levels.

Female executives are earning as much as their male counterparts at junior executive level, according to research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Earning an average salary of £21,969, female junior executives in the UK are currently being paid marginally more (£602) than male executives at the same level, whose average salary is £21,367.

However, the 2011 National management salary survey, which polled 34,158 UK executives, also found that equal pay for male and female executives across all seniority levels remains a long way off. Men continue to be paid more on average than women doing the same jobs (£42,441 compared to £31,895), revealing a gender pay gap of £10,546.

We won't talk here about the inequality of women being paid more than men in the junior levels. That hasn't been brought up in any other media anywhere, so why bother here?

This persistent gap means that, despite the fact that salaries for female executives as a whole are currently increasing faster than those of their male counterparts (female salaries increased by 2.4% during the 12 months between February 2010 to February 2011, a 0.3% higher rate of increase than for male salaries), if male and female salaries continue to increase at current rates, it would be 2109 before the average salary for female executives catches up with that of their male peers.

Now I'm no economist and I've never worked in human resources. The best way for me to understand this is to look at my experience and compare this research to examples from the places I have worked.

I'll also mention that it is already illegal to pay men and women differently for doing the same job.

Equal pay does not just mean paying a woman the same wage as a man for doing the same job. Pay is based on ability, qualifications and experience.

Where I work now we have an appraisal every year (I hate them) where we have to sit with our boss and discuss the job we do and how we have progressed in that job over the past year.

The results of that interview, plus the observations of management over the year, determines the pay rise we get.

It stands to reason that a person who has done a good job, had little time off, expanded their role and gained extra experience will find a decent(ish) pay rise at the end of it. Should their counterpart who has had 10 months off on maternity leave, then re-started work on a four day week, receive the same pay rise?

Some women will tell you that they shouldn't be penalised for having children. I would argue that they are not being, their wage hasn't gone down has it, they just haven't been rewarded for not being in work most of the year.

I've seen women disappear on maternity leave for months, then have to be trained on new computer software on their return. Computer technology is constantly updating, but if you use it constantly, it's not a problem.

I've seen female account managers go on maternity leave, hand their accounts over to other staff or temps, then come back to accounts that they no longer have much knowledge of because they've been away so long. The customers aren't particularly fond of that either, they build up a working relationship with their account manager.

Then there's the four day week, the absence due to lack of childcare and the leaving work due to child sickness, all of which the company is expected to tolerate, regardless of the disruption it may cause.

In the new research quoted above, the females at junior level are being paid on a par with the males. That's because they all begin on the same grade and with the same experience working with the company (none).

As they move their way up the ladder, the ones who gain the most new experience and have the least time away from work will receive the bigger pay rises, until the women who have taken two to three years off work to have children have brought the average pay for their sex below the average pay for the men.

There is a lot of moaning in The Guardian about how the pay gap need to be closed as quickly as possible.

The only real way to do this is to pay women more money than they deserve for the jobs that they do.

We would need to give them full pay for maternity leave, no matter how long they were off and we would need to keep this up through childcare / sickness etc. The minute you reduce a woman's pay for not working, that brings down the average pay for all women.

We would also have to give them pay rises based on average cross gender wages rather than performance. That would mean the men have to work hard to achieve a level of pay rise which would then be paid to women also.

Are these solutions the way forward for British businesses? Shut it feminists! I sincerely hope not. Pay is and should be based on merit, not gender.

I have heard some women say that motherhood is the greatest job in the world, but let's face facts, it doesn't put food on the table or buy your clothes now does it?

There is also a case for disputing the figures altogether. I'm sure the Chartered Management Institute is a reputable body, but lets look at these quotes from a previous study of theirs done a year ago:

Women managers in the UK face a wait of 57 years for their salaries to equal their male colleagues, a study says.
Female managers' pay rose by 2.8% in the last 12 months, but on average they earned £10,000 less than male managers.
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said that at the current rate, women managers will not be paid the same as men for 57 years.

And the pay gap even existed at junior management level, with men being paid at least £1,000 more than women executives, the survey said.

Compared to these from the latest study:

Female managers are now paid an average £31,895 per year, compared with £42,441 for men doing the same job, according to the Chartered Management Institute.
Despite women's pay rising faster than men's, the CMI said it would take 98 years to gain parity at current rates.

The CMI said that women's salaries had increased by 2.4% this year, compared with 2.1% for their male colleagues.

However, junior female managers earned more than males for the first time.
According to its survey, junior women managers now earn £21,969 on average, £602 more than men at the same level.

Women's pay has risen faster over the past twelve months than men's, but the time it will take for the pay gap to close has risen from 57 years to 98 years?

Just goes to show you need to question what you read in the papers. Those stats are off the BBC website so could be tosh themselves, we all know how good the BBC are at reporting.

Women at junior level have now overtaken men and are earning more. I think business is under pressure to pay higher salaries to women at the beginning of their employment (with no objection from the feminists) but over time, their average pay drops below men's for the reasons stated above.

The one over rinding flaw in all this is that men and women are not equal. People are not equal. Everyone is different and everyone has their own skills and qualities to bring to a working environment.

I once created a program that reduced our departments workload by 35 man hours per week (in 1997), and I was given a £40pa pay rise as a result. Should my female counterpart who does the same job but didn't create the program be given the same pay rise in the interests of equality?
Could she even step outside her job role and come up with the idea if her head is full of booties and bassanets? (One for the chauvanists there)

Any business owner worth their salt would pay people on an individual basis for their merits, not because they are female, black, gay or reptilian.

It's peoples differences that make them human, that help them to grow and better themselves. We can't force them all to be the same.

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